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preserve inviolate the best fystem of liberty that was ever yet reduced to practice. Although the valour of Great Britain in every instance, and her military skill in some, were as contpicuous in her late struggle with her confederated foes as they ever had been in any former period, yet through diffentions in her councils, timidity on the part of her ininisters, and weaknets or treachery on that of her commanders, The fuffered on the whole in the eyes of the nations, defeat and humiliation. The slaves to despots on the continent of Europe, confounding the interests of a free people with victory, and the glory of arms, visiting on individuals the iniquities and follies of the rulers of their nation, began to regard an Englishman with diminished respect : as if millions of free men had suttered real loss and disgrace by failure in attempts where succeis would have shed glory only on the few who made them. But the real glory, as well as interest of a nation, is the enjoyment of liberty, and of the greatest portion of happiness that is poffible to be extended to every individual in the itate. The people of England, on the miscarriage of their naval and military plans, felt not any degradation of character, nor sunk into that fanguid dejection which is vitit le after unsuccessfuł wars in arbitrary governments.
Part of the nation was routed by the public misfortunes, to watch that ministerial influence to which, in the judgment of many, they were to be ascribed, demanded, and continue to de. mand, a Reformation of Parliament; and part oppose all fuch inno"vations as dangerous : but in both we difcern a noble zeal for the preservation of that balance in the conflitution on which liberty depends. This spirit of freedom, this jealousy of encroachment on the distinct provinces of the different branches of government, which had equally appeared, though in a different manner, in oppo. fite parties in the state, blazed forth on the discussion of Mr. Fox's East India Bill in parliament, with a light and energy which not only gave a check to the progress of his scheme, but which, by illustrating the principles of the constitution, and exhibiting a pleasing proof of the vigilance of the nation, and of public virtue, will tend to discourage similar attempts in future.
The great enemy to dark intrigue is that quick communication of sentiments and designs which springs from the press, from public roads, and from commercial intercourte. In barbarous and uncul. tivated countries, political revolutions are neither unfrequent nor difficult. Ignorance and the face of the country give-efficacy and advantage to the monarchical principle of governing mankind by dividing them. In the city of Moscow, at the ends of all the great streets, are gates, which being suddenly shut in cases of tumult and insurrection, by cutting off the communication of the people, serve as engines both of good order and of tyramy. There is not in the world a livelier representation, at once of the nature and the means of liberty and of opprelfion. Destroy the gates interspersed in the ancient capital of Russia, and a numerous, and quick people, headed by chieftains among the old nobility, who make that the place of their residence, would find occasion of displiting the mandates from the court of Petersburgh. Neither in the English capital, nor in any of its great cities, nor on the roads, are any obstructions to be found to a free intercourse among the people. The press is free, pregnant, and productive ; posts are established between London and
overy village of any note in Britain ; improvements have been made, and are still making, in travelling; and the number of readers is greater in the present, than in any former period of the Englisi history. Accordingly, on no occasion of political contest, do we find so great a number of addresses to the throne, preiented within so short a time, as flowed from all quarters of the kingdom on oce casion of that contest which arose on the parliamentary discuthon of Mr. Fox's India Bill. That bill was rejected by the House of Peers ; and the ministers who had framed and supported it were dismissed from their offices. Their dismission they. attected, at firit, to treat with ridicule, as a vain and impotent expresfion of resentment. They boasted that they remained an unbroken body_That they themselves, with their adherents, had all refigned as one man--And that an adininiftration formed in opposition to their power, could not last for three days. Mr. Fox taid that the new miniftry had placed themselves on the treafury-bench, like so many children, without once reflecting on the means by which they might be fupported in their new stations, He affirmed that they had not any ra. tional, nor indeed any plan whatever, but trusted entirely for their stability, to time and accidents. · With such ideas of the omnipotence of the House of Commons, the leaders of the coalition, on the defeat of their Eaft-India Bill, immediately proposed to revive it, with some minute alterations, after the example of the Long Parliament in 1641, in the bill respecting the bishops, for the express purpose of compelling the House of Lords and the King to pafsit ; that is, after the example of those times, to invelt the House of Commons, exclufively of the Home of Lords, and of the King, with the real, effective, legislative authority. In the mcan time one threatening vote was palled by the Commons after another. They seemed desirous of having it understood that they intended to proceed to an open resistance to Executive Government. And this, perhaps, they would have done, if their verbal resolu. tions, had been rendered effective by the approbation and support of their constituents.
In the midst of these alarms, the minister of the Crown, though repeatedly foiled in the House of Commons, steadily held the helin, in silent expectation that the breath of popular favour would swell the fails, and give motion to the grand machine of Governinent. That animating brecze was heard and felt throughout the whole kingdom. The supplies were voted, the mutiny-bill was prolonged, and all the threats of coalition, and pageantry of menacing refolutions, evaporated, at laft, in an angry remonstrance addrelied to their insulted sovereign. Thus the Crown was able to maintain its conftitutional
prerogative; and the faction that aspired to the government of a democracy, suffered defeat and disgrace. This event, which was matter of general exultation throughout Great Britain, became a subject of alarm to many whose public virtue could not be called in question. The errors of one parliament, said those men, may be correeted in another : but the throne is never vacant: every precedent in favour of the Crown acquires the authority of a law; and when an example is once set of governing in contempt of the House of
Commons, it will soon be followed by other examples of the fathe kind. For a breach is made in the barrier that protected the'privileges. of the people, which will be widened by a conttant Itream of royal, influence, till at lait, an irresistible torrent (of despotic power shall level in Great Baitain, as in other European kingdoms, all the bulwarks of liberty, and bury all ranks and orders of men in a general deluge of absolute monarchy."
Had the Crown, in reality, by its own native.vigour, and without any adventitious power, triumphed over a majority in the House of Commons contending in a good cause, and the real interests and rights of the people, the apprehenfions of those men would have been too well founded, and the year 1784 would have doubtless given birth to the most gloomy æra in the annals of England and of Freedom. But neither did the Crown defeat the views of a combined majority in the Houfe of Commons by its own vigour, and without any adventitious power; nor did that majority contend for the interests and rights of the people. A powerful faction invaded at once the rights of the Crown and the privileges of their fellow-citizens. They grasped at the executive as well as legislative government of India ; they seized the property of the East-India Company; they disputed with the Crown the power of appointing the great officers of state. These encroachments would have led to others—The fertile genius of a bold and necessitous leader, of necessitous and desperate men, would have discovered new subjects of rapacity, and new objects of ambition-The sceptre fhook in the hands of the sovereign, and it would have fallen to the ground had it not been supported by the affection, the good fense, and the confidence of his people. Thus the people are, in reality, a fourth estate of the kingdom, different from King, Lords, and their own representatives in parliament: for these laft, as well as the other two branches of the legislature, have on many occafions, an interest, in this age of systematized corruption, different from that of their constituents. There is in the British, as there was in the Roman government, a power of appealing to the people, and it is, it seems, equally decisive. There is not therefore any danger that can arise from the check that has been lately given to the exceeding power of the House of Commons, fince that check was necessary to the preservation of the political balance; and since it was given, not by the royal prerogative alone, but by the royal prrrogative approved aud supported by the general voice of the nation.
[To be continued in our next.] Our correspondent who wishes for a continuation of our. Review of Black. Aone's Commentaries, shall be indulged in a future number.
Knox's Essays on Education was published long before the commencement: of our Journal.
It having been suggested that THE NAMES on our cover had fubjected the gentlemen to many reflections for articles which they never wrote, they are for these, and other obvious reasons, withdrawn. With the present number is given the Title, Contents and Index for vol. iv.
* Communications for The ENGLISH REVIEW are requefied to be sent to Mr. MURRAY, No. 32, Fleet-street, London, where fuba. fcribers for this monthly performance are desired to give in their names.
For FEBRU Á R Y,
An Åpolngy for the Life of George Ann Bellamy, late of Covent Gara
den Theatre. Written by Herself, To which is annexed her original Letter to John Calcraft, Efq; advertised to be published in O&tober 1767, but which was then violently suppressed.
5 vols. 155. fewed. Bello London. HIS performance is interesting and curious upon many
accounts. It contains without disguise the life of a woman who was beautiful and well educated; who has diftinguished herself as a capital actress; and whose adventures have been various and fingular. This hiftory, too, is the more alluring and valuable, as it is written by Mrs. Bellamy herself. Hence those frequent bursts of tenderness, anxiety, and passion which captivate the reader so much ; and which, throughout these volumes, prolong an agitation that is at once melancholy and pleafing. Mrs. Bellamy knows how to communicate the exquisite tone of her feelings : We enter into and go along with her forrows; and the tender sympathy the excites has the power to detract from the disapprobation that ought to accompany the detail of her
The vanity of beauty, the eclat of general admiration, the Hattery and blandishments of men of high rank and fortune, the love of pleasure, and the pride of luxury and voluptuoufness, are the topics which most naturally apologize for female frailty : and in the present café there were fuperadded a sensibility of foul, and a fineness of paffion that were the most feelingly alive. But while the weakness of nature pleads forcibly for Mrs. Bellamy, the extreme càndour with which the describes her faults serves Eng. Rev. Feb. 1785.
also to alleviate the impresfion of them ; and in a moral view the pictures the draws may be highly beneficial. They may instruct the young and thoughtless of her own fex to fly from the flattering shore of vanity, diffipation, and illicit love, by exbibiting thc mifery and wretchednefs they are otherwise fo certainly to encounter.
To give an abridgment of the adventures of Mrs. Bellamy would not suit the boundaries of our journal; but it becomes us to illustrate to our readers by some short extracts the nature of the entertainment and inftruction that are to be found in the volumes before us.
Mrs. Bellamy was invited by Mr. Rich to play the character of Monimia when she was just fourteen.
• The curtain,' says she, drew up to a splendid audience, which seldom happened at Covent-Garden Theatre, except when a new or revived pantomime was represented. • It is impossible to describe
firft entrance. I was so much dazzled by the lights, and stunned by the repeated plaudits, that I was for some time deprived both of memory and voice. I stood like å ftatue. Till compallion for my youth, and probably some prepofition for my figure and dress, which was fimply elegant, a circumstance, not very customary, induced a gentleman, who was di&tator to the pit, and therefore ludicrously denominated Mr. Town, to call out, and order the curtain to be dropped, till I could recover iny.
confusion. This caused Mr. Quin to exult so much, that Mr. Rich intreated ine in the most earnest manner to exert my powers. But his intreaties weré ineffectual. For when I made the next attempt, my apprehenfion's fo totally overpowered me, that I could searcely be heard in the side-boxes. The applause, indeed, was fo univerfal, during the frit act, for what did not reach the ears of the audience, that had I poffeffect my: full powers of exertion, they could not have profited by then.
• The manager having pledged himself for my fuccess, he had plantedall his friends in different parts of the house, to insure it. But when he found that I was unable to raise my spirits, he was as diftracted as if his own faie, and that of his theatre, had depended upon it. He once more had recourse to persuasion and encouragement; Burnothing could rouse me from my stupidity, till the fourth act. I'His was the critical period which was to determine my fate. By this criterion was ), as an actress, to stand or fall. When, to the altonisment: of the audience, the surprize of the performers, and the exultation of the manager, I felt myself suddenly inspired. I blazed out at once with meridian fplendour ; and I acquitted myself Ehroughout the whole of this most arduous part of the character, in which even many veterans have failed, with the greatest eclat.
• Mr. Quin was so fascinated (as he exprefled himself) at this unexpected exertion, that he waited behind the scenes till the conclusion of the act, when lifting me up from the ground, he exclaimed aloud, “'Thou art a divine creature, and the true fpirit is in thee."